Priorities First: How to Leverage Your Valuable Time
Join master business coach Michelle Landis, as she strives to create success and abundance for every business owner with the ActionCOACH method of focus, accountability, and results. Visit our weekly Q & A session as Coach Michelle tackles real questions on a variety of issues - and provides you with answers that will BRING RESULTS for your company!
Question of the Week: “I never have enough time in a day to complete everything. What’s the best way for a small business owner to prioritize?”
Coach Michelle: Here’s the real truth: The ability to multi-task is a myth. A person can only do one thing at a time. And in order to conduct small business effectively, it is imperative that the owner learn how to prioritize his or her time.
Almost everyone needs to get MORE done in the time available to DO it in. So if you lack focus on what is most important to accomplish in a day, you will naturally feel overwhelmed, indecisive, and at the end of the day, depressed about what you DIDN’T get finished. This is the trap so many of us fall prey to.
When you are ready to set your business priorities, keep this principle in mind. Most people have heard of the Pareto Principle, more commonly known as the 80/20 Principle. Simply put, this means that in most businesses, 80 percent of your business comes from 20 percent of your customers. Hence, your most important priorities should focus on that highly productive 20 percent!
If you are able to accomplish this simple task by focusing your time, energy, money and personnel on this top 20 percent, you can reap the benefits of a 400 percent or fourfold return in productivity!
5 Important Steps To Prioritizing Your Day
1. Write It Down. Before you start anything else in the morning (especially before checking emails!), write down everything that needs to get done that day ON PAPER. Once you have a list, separate the items into urgent vs. non-urgent to determine the top priorities for that day.
2. Assess The Value. Remember the 80-20 rule here - not everything is absolutely urgent. Be real with yourself when doing this, setting unattainable goals will only cause disappointment down the road. Your strongest priorities should somehow relate back to your ultimate business goals - what I like to call your “Big Rocks.” This way, none of your time ends up being wasted.
3. Give Up Perfectionism. Not many things in the business world (or life in general) turn out exactly the way you hope. Know how to recognize when a task becomes unproductive - a time-drainer - and be willing to move on to something else when your time is being eaten away by details. Effective business strategy involves knowing when to cut the cord and move on.
4. Go With The Flow. Recognize that each day is not going to end up with impeccably completed tasks like you might have initially hoped. Be flexible, and willing to adjust as the day moves on and new priorities/emergencies or needs crop up. What is not done by the end of the day should get shifted back into your default schedule. (See below…)
5. Have a Default Schedule. This is essential to keeping each day running smoothly in an organized fashion - with an eye on the weekly, monthly and quarterly prize. By creating an effective default schedule, you can identify exactly what you have to do, when to do it, and how long it should take you - all while moving you toward the completion of your Big Rock goals.
Daily distractions are something we all must deal with. But keeping these five critical tips in mind when you begin each day, the load on your shoulders will lighten considerably! And by focusing your time with the 80-20 rule in mind, your small business will surely reap the benefits.
About the Author, Michelle Landis
Michelle is a certified Master Business Coach and owner of ActionCOACH of Greater Lehigh Valley/Berks. She is an educator and a business professional with over 25 years experience in the business world running both small and medium sized businesses. She has an extensive background in education, executive management, sales & marketing, operations and entrepreneurial pursuits that include international consulting in China, extensive teaching and educational endeavors as well as executive leadership roles with General Electric, Dun & Bradstreet and Armstrong World Industries. Her leadership skills have delivered over $58 million to the bottom line. Get a BUSINESS HEALTH CHECK with Michelle or connect with Michelle on FACEBOOK, join her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.